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Hobart and William Smith president responds to New York Times article

Created: 07/17/2014 9:19 AM WHEC.com

Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, is responding to a New York Times article that was critical of how the school handled a sexual assault case.

Timeline of events:

Sunday -- The New York Times highlighted a student on campus who claims she was sexually assaulted last year. She says she went to the school for justice and justice came up empty.

Monday -- Several students on campus put together an online petition, hoping to convince the schools to update their policies to better serve and protect sexual assault victims.

Tuesday - Students met with school officials to work toward improving the schools’ policies. The schools in question are Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

Wednesday -- Gearan posted a response on the Hobart and William Smith website saying in part, “I join in expressing my profound heartache that any student at the Colleges could have an experience like the one described in the article. As the father of two daughters, I was especially disheartened that our campus was the place of such sorrow and tragedy for one of our students.”

Gearan said the Colleges will continuously work to ensure that the sexual misconduct police and process meets the standards that the community expects as part of its commitment to create a safe and supportive environment.

According to Gearan, here are some things are underway:

  • A group of faculty, staff, students and alums are working on a thorough review of our processes for sexual misconduct cases including investigation, adjudication and support procedures.
  • We will have a dedicated Title IX office staffed with experts in educational development, psychologists and legal advisers established for the Fall 2014 semester to ensure that our hearing process is equitable and fair.
  • We are reviewing enhanced safety measures including greater use of technology and a student-initiated 24-hour hotline.
  • The Colleges' prevention and education curriculum will be expanded to include training for all students and special programming for cohort groups such as student government representatives, resident assistants, athletes and fraternities, among many others.
  • We will provide enhanced training for faculty and staff, and additional training for those involved with response, investigation and/or adjudication of sexual misconduct complaints.
  • Based on best practices suggested by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, we will conduct a climate survey this fall to clearly understand the perspectives of our student body.
     




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